IHG Teams Up With Chinese OTA Ctrip

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IHG and Chinese OTA Ctrip yesterday announced a partnership where IHG launches a flagship “store” on the platform tailored for the local audience.

Ctrip

Ctrip members can get their status matched to IHG Rewards Club Gold and fast track option to Platinum.

You can access IHG’s here.

READ MORE: IHG Rewards Club Rate & Bonus Points And Miles Promotions

Here’s the announcement from IHG:

IHG® (InterContinental Hotels Group), one of the world’s leading hotel companies, today officially launched its first flagship store on Chinese leading OTA (Online Travel Agent) platform, as part of the partnership with Ctrip, part of Trip.com Group. Both companies will also cooperate in their membership systems, enriching the experiences and benefits for loyalty members from both sides.

The launch also marks IHG’s strategy in localization as a global company, optimizing its digital distribution channel to meet the needs of digitally savvy Chinese consumers. The locally tailored flagship store not only enables guests to search, browse and book a room from over 470 IHG hotels in Greater China, but also allows Trip.com Group members to register with IHG’s loyalty programme – IHG® Rewards Club, enjoying the member rate, stay points and other benefits.

In addition to the flagship store, the two companies will launch direct membership matching, whereby Ctrip Diamond and higher tier members can apply to become an IHG® Rewards Club Gold Elite Member through the IHG flagship store. After completing a certain qualifying spend, they will be upgraded to an IHG® Rewards Club Platinum Elite Member.

Jolyon Bulley, Chief Executive Officer, IHG Greater China, remarked:

“The partnership between two top players in the travel industry shows positive signs of lodging demand recovery in China post Covid-19. Over our 36 years of operation in China, we have and will continue to build an ‘in China for China’ business, focused on evolving Chinese consumer expectations. We are looking forward to better leveraging the resources from both sides, providing more guests with convenient booking experience, a richer range of benefits as well as our True Hospitality.”

Chief Executive Officer of Accommodation Business at Trip.com Group Ray Chen said:

“We are delighted to work with IHG, as part of this win-win collaboration further enriching the travel experience for our customers. This partnership also reflects our continuous efforts to deliver a pleasant, seamless and efficient travel experience.”

The May Day holiday has brought a significant rise in IHG hotel bookings in the domestic market where people favored short trips to neighbouring cities or countryside. With the domestic hotel sector in China gradually returning to normalcy, quality and experience will become more important factors when consumers make booking decisions. Hotel brands that are consistently reliable for excellent guest experience will be their preferred choices. Being one of the first hotel loyalty programmes in the world, IHG® Rewards Club has been rewarding its members with more personalized products to build up enhanced and emotional experiences. Currently, there are over 100 million IHG® Rewards Club members globally.

Conclusion

IHG here appears to admit that it is challenging to work in the Chinese market without having a partnership with an OTA, in this case, Ctrip, and giving up on direct distribution.

Hotel companies have tried for years to get people to book direct bypassing the OTAs due to the 15% to 20% commission they charge.

If someone doesn’t often stay at hotels and prefer to shop around and use multiple brands, there is very little that hotel loyalty programs have to offer. You never earn elite status, and it would take years to earn free nights.

Also, IHG Rewards Club is nor precisely the most generous one when it comes to status benefit rendering it less useful.

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